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70% of 10yr-old children in Nigeria cannot understand a simple sentence – UNICEF



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*Says Nigeria faces learning crisis

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) on Friday Nigeria is experiencing a learning poverty in which 70 per cent of 10-year-old children in the country cannot understand a simple sentence or perform basic numeracy task.

The UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Kano, Rahama Mohammed warned that Nigeria’s current situation portends a bleak future for the nation.

In his remarks at a Media Dialogue in Kano on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, Mohammed warned that Nigeria faces a learning crisis in which learning is not taking place, even for children that are in schools.

UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku said the Media Dialogue focused on the Sustainable Development Goals as Child’s Rights, Njoku said Nigeria is very unlikely to meet the SDGs 2030 unless children’s rights are protected.

Mohammed who was represented by the Officer-in-Charge of Field Office Kano, Issakha Diop canvassed a holistic improvement in education sector in Nigeria to curtail the menace. He lauded the entire Nigeria media for being a strong ally and advocate for the rights of children.

He said “Talking about children’s rights, Education is one of such rights. Education is a fundamental human right, and that right is well-articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which guides the work of UNICEF, and of course, in other legal instruments, including the Nigerian Constitution.”

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Mohammed said UNICEF in executing its mandate of promoting, protecting, advocating and collaborating with partners for the realisation of the rights of children, has been collaborating with the Government of Nigeria to improve outcomes in the education sector. He noted that progress was being made, he said much more needs to be done.

According to him, “To address the challenge, achieving basic learning outcomes at the foundational level of education is key. It is clear that to improve learning outcomes in Nigeria, achieving basic foundational skills at that level of learning cannot be overemphasized.

He said UNICEF is already supporting the Government of Nigeria to improve Foundational Literacy and Numeracy through tailor-made, teaching learning practices, such as Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) and Reading and Numeracy Activities (RANA).

He said a lot still needs to be done to scale-up Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in Nigeria, and the support of every ally and stakeholder is needed – especially that of a powerful institution and ally like the media. That is why this Media Dialogue is not only apt, but timely and important!

He urged the media to deploy its mass-mediated channels of communication to raise awareness of the learning crisis in Nigeria; advocate increased funding to the education sector, especially the allocation of adequate resources to pre-primary and primary level of education in Nigeria; and investing in improving teacher quality.

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“I urge the media to mobilize all stakeholders including parents, teachers, communities, government, Civil Society Oganisations, donors to join in addressing the challenge of learning poverty in Nigeria”, Mohammed said.

A lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu, Dr. Chidiebere Ezinwa in his presentation said Nigeria might suffer deficit in human capital in the future, cumulating into widespread poverty in the country unless the learning crisis was reversed.

He said education is right of children not previledg and urged the media to raise awareness on children’s rights especially as it concerns education.

Ezinwa said “The sustainable development goals can not be achieved without realising the rights of the child. The convention on the rights of the child provides a legal framework for realising the rights and the SDGs.”

UNICEF Education Specialist, Manar Ahmed in her presentation harped on training and retraining for teachers to be able to provide learning for the children. She also called on Nigerian government to increase budgetary allocation for education sector to aid the realization of the expected outcome in terms of ensuring quality education for children.

The Training Coordinator, News Agency of Nigeria, Dr. Uche Anunne urged the media to interrogate issues around rights of children and educate people on child protection.

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